Off to The North I Go

“In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, hey, oh, ya, ya-a..”
~Zombie, The Cranberries

"Elvis" Walking the Streets of Belfast
It wouldn’t be fair to come all the way to Ireland without making a trip to Ulster. Northern Ireland is just a part of Ireland as it is to the United Kingdom. I’ve wanted to go to the North for a long time. I’m more interested in seeing the cultural implications that this part of the country has tied in with its natural beauty. I’m very excited to make my way to the Giant Causeway , which happens to be Ireland’s first UNECO World Heritage Site. The basalt land formation is what’s calling me. However, a stop in Belfast is also a must.
As the early bird gets the warm, I set out on my adventure at 7AM from the famous Gresham Hotel on O’Connor Street in the heart of Dublin. I decided to go with Wild Rover Tours. The receptionist at Generator Hostel over in Smithfield recommended that I go with this company. I was sold on the fact that it included a famous Black Taxi Tour of Belfast  to see the famous political murals. Awesome is my words for this tour, I must admit that this is amazing. The taxi drivers are superb; they know their stuff to the nines & will talk your ear off. I quite enjoyed myself with Jerry this morning learning the history of both sides. The Troubles were right in my face. The murals were amazing. I’m so happy to have visited them The murals are a great reminder of the importance that there that peace can be achieve in this beautiful world. Apparently they are changed every two years & they promote equal rights, civil rights & civil liberties, not to forget the world peace aspect as well. I learned that the peace gate still gets closed at 7PM each night. I was blessed to have signed the Peace Wall & I was very happy to do so.  I had John Lennon’s lyrics of “Give Peace a Chance” going threw my head. Also, it was nice to know that Bill Clinton & the Dali Lama also signed the wall with a few other famous celebrities. The cool thing about the Peace Wall is that some sections of it are made up of pieces of the Berlin Wall. There was also mention of George Mitchell & signing of the Good Friday Agreement back in the 90’s that ended The Troubles. It’s sad to hear that some of the people of Belfast want the Peace Wall to be torn down, but honestly it’s a wonderful reminder to the world about peace & the act of being peaceful amongst yourselves first so it can radiate throughout all other parts.There's so much rich history to experience in these parts.
Peace Wall, Belfast
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Historically, it’s famous for the Irish linen industry, tobacco production, rope making & shipbuilding. You must know about that famous ship that hit an iceberg & sank in the North Atlantic, the RMS Titanic. Trust me, I didn’t come all this way to learn about the Titanic history, I have done that in primary school & that famous Leo Titanic flix. The city played a major role in the Industrial Revolution, but today it remains a center for industry as well that the arts, higher education, business, legal affairs & the economic heart of Northern Ireland.
But you must remember that the city did suffer greatly during the period of the Troubles where extreme violence prevailed between the Protestants & Catholics communities that call Belfast home. Historically Ireland was part of the United Kingdom & didn’t get their independence until 1922. William of Orange defeated the army of the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne back in 1690. The roots of the troubles can be traced back to this time. The Orange Order or Orange Men is strongly linked to unionism to the United Kingdom where as Sinn Fein is linked to Irish sovereignty movement as creating a unified Ireland that is included with Northern Ireland. Today, Ulster or Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom & Munster, Leinster & Connacht make up the Republic of Ireland.  Basically a long story short it has to do with religious affiliation on what they have been fighting for tied into civil rights & equality issues. Sadly to say that the concept of “oneness” has been lost threw out the ages of the conflict. War shouldn’t be the answer, but peace should, get rid of the hatred inside of yourself & increase your love for thy neighbor.
Crossing from the South or the Republic into the North or Northern Ireland you will almost spontaneously will see a difference between the two. Perhaps noticing that the road signs are in miles with well maintained roads will be a surprise to you, with a slightly different accent, going from the Euro to the Pound Sterling & now in the UK for as long as your expedition to the North takes you. But you got to remember that the scars of the Troubles are not necessarily healed. It might not be the proper conversation to bring up in one of those just as spontaneously conversation with a local. If a local brings it up, just listen & be open minded about what is being said. Largely The Troubles started in the 60’s over civil rights & civil liberties. Martin Luther King, Jr. & many other American civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks inspired the movement. It’s quite the piece of history that can’t be forgotten about in these parts & the whole movement is now a big tourist attraction for the city of Belfast.  Hopefully, the Middle East could make their wars into a tourist attraction to promote peace & understanding of both sides. I had the pleasure of visiting both Protestant & Catholic neighborhoods & it’s a real eye opener to the reality of the conflict.
The afternoon was spent listing to Irish pop, listing about the fate of the Irish State as a hole, the possibility of Northern Ireland joining the Republic of Ireland & enjoying the breath taking views looking over to neighboring Scotland. I wanted to scream a big hello to my friends over there, but opted not to & only thought about it. The coastline is beautiful & it’s only 9 miles to Scotland, I could easily see it in the distance. 
The Giant Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway (Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFomhórach) is located in County Atrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.  The region is home to about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with up to eight sides & the tallest are about 12 meters high & the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 meters thick in some area. This place is breath taking. As I recall my vaguely from Irish History there’s a ledged that goes along with this place. The Scottish giant Benandonner challenged the Giant Finn MacCool. Finn accepted the challenge & built a causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet.
I had an awesome time at the Causeway. I ended up hiking along the rim before making my way down to the shore. It was blowing a gale out there & almost got swept away into the sea. The winds reminded me of being back in Antarctica.  The sea sprayed me too, the surf was lively & it felt amazing to be one with nature! The volcanic cost was beautiful to see. On my way back to Dublin, I had the opportunity to drive threw the town of Bushmills which is home to the oldest whiskey distillery & it is Ireland’s oldest distillery. It’s a small town, sadly to say that the towns in Ireland are loosing their charm cos a lot of people are moving out of them for better economical opportunities.
I enjoyed my day in the North. I had the Cranberries in my head all day long. The accent in the North didn’t bother me & I could easily understand it, they just talk a lot faster than the South, but was used to it from a friend of mine who is from Belfast. I ended the night by having a lovely pint of Bulmers & a lovely veggie curry over a Slatterys‎. The pub is known to be Dublin’s earliest public house opening up at 7AM where you can get a drink & a fully Irish Breakfast or Fry Up as it is known as. The pub is also home to a wall dedicated to the Easter Rebellion memorabilia. I had the pleasure of seeing a framed jacket of Michael Collins along with many photos of the great revolutionary leader. Good night Dublin it has been another fab day!  Peace can be achieve in this world!

“Heaven on Earth
We need it now
I'm sick of all of this
Hanging around

Sick of sorrow
I'm sick of the pain
I'm sick of hearing
Again and again
That there's gonna be
Peace on Earth”
~Peace on Earth, U2

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